Why Take Guitar Lessons?
With the huge amount of information available on sites like Ultimate Guitar and YouTube these days, many people are wondering why they should bother taking private lessons. Twenty years ago it was almost universally accepted that if you wanted to learn an instrument thoroughly and properly, you sought out an experienced and well-trained player and studied under them. These days, much of the same information you can learn from a teacher is available on the internet. The key word here is “information.” Yes, you can learn a lot from the internet. But there are many things that only an experienced player in a face-to-face, one-on-one environment can teach you. There are also many things that you can learn either way, but will learn more quickly and effectively with a teacher. In this article, I will discuss just a few of these.
Only a teacher with a thorough knowledge of the mechanics of playing an instrument can teach you proper technique. What is “proper technique?” Simply put, it is the exact way you move your hands around on the instrument that allows you to play quickly, accurately, and comfortably. A good instructor will help you develop your technique step by step, correcting problems as they arise, assigning exercises and pieces that will steer your technique along the right course. You can learn a little about proper technique by watching good players and reading books, but without a good teacher, it is easy to get sidetracked or even misled by poor information. Also, since everyone has different hands, what is considered good technique for one person may not work for another.
A teacher will help you to figure out what works best for YOU.
Picking the Right Songs
As a player who was self-taught for a time, I can tell you that trying to pick your own songs can be extremely frustrating. I would constantly choose songs that were out of my league because I didn’t really understand what was required to play them. I’d end up learning one or two of the easier parts of the song and then moving on to something else, because the rest of the song was just
too hard. As a result, for years I knew a lot of bits and pieces of songs, but would be embarrassed when anyone asked me to “play a song,” because I didn’t actually know any of them all the way through. It was like short attention span theater. That all changed when I got a good teacher. He was able to assess my abilities and pick songs that were challenging, but still within my reach as a
player. That’s something that the internet will never be able to do. There is simply no substitute for human judgment.
Many people are self-motivated enough to teach themselves, but for most of us, going to a lesson once a week is the best way to stay excited about music and keep making progress. When you know that you’ll be playing something for another person, you generally work harder on it. The motivation is simple. When you play something well for your teacher, you get praise and recognition, and you generally get something new to do, either a song or a new and interesting concept. On the other hand, if you’re unprepared you will be kind of embarrassed to play, knowing that you could have done much better. The motivation to practice is built into the system. If you don’t play well, a good teacher will offer advice and encouragement rather than getting upset about it. If you’ve had a rough week, they will suggest a strategy to help you do better next time. You should leave your lesson feeling like you have the tools to overcome any difficulties you are having with your music. Your teacher will motivate and inspire you to work harder and get better in a way
that no book or computer can.
Wrapping it Up
It all comes down to individual attention and judgment. A good teacher will evaluate your progress on an ongoing basis and steer you in the right direction. They will help you accomplish your goals in your own time and in your own way. They will customize their lessons to your interests and keep you inspired to play and make progress. At O’Connor Guitar, my goal is always to be the kind of teacher discussed in this article. That kind of teacher will beat the internet, hands down, any day of the week.